Maria: Ann it’s so great to have you here today! I am particularly excited to have you as a [Spotlight] guest because the essence of what you do contributes to and challenges the societal norms of beauty, self-esteem and worth.
Before we fully get into what you’re doing TODAY as a powerhouse female entrepreneur and executive, I would love for you to share how you became an entrepreneur. You started at age 16…where did this bug come from?
Ann: I started out competing in modeling and beauty pageants style events.
That is when I began to experience “height” discrimination in the entertainment and modeling industry. Many events and televised model searches have height requirements that prevent those under 5 ft 8 from competing at all.
Maria: How did this prompt you to become an entrepreneur?
Ann: It prompted me because I thought there needs to be a change in the industry itself. I realized having the USA Petite Model Shows would give me the opportunity to present petite women in a positive manner. At the time I also thought it would be wonderful to launch a fashion magazine as well.
There were so many things I wanted to do.
I had a list of goals and I wanted to try to achieve them over the years. So I started out by producing the USA Petite Model events. That was as a teenager – 16, 17, 18, 19. I went to college and just did a bunch of stuff at the same time.
Maria: You have a background in marketing both online and offline marketing & publicity. How has that helped you on your journey?
I was the Public Relations Director for the NBA Lakers Happy Hairston Foundation, which is specifically for under privileged kids and putting them through college. I also handled the publicity for Celebrity Gold Tournaments working with top sponsors such as the Hosting Country Clubs, Toyota, Callaway Golf, Evian, Titilist, Nike, Lacoste and ESPN programming. My responsibilities included coordinating the celebrities’ press schedules, tee times for the tournaments, and coordinating television-programming schedules for the celebrities.
I learned so much about events, event promotion and publicity! It was amazing! I was working as an independent consultant at the time.
Maria: So you’ve never ever done the 9-5 thing?
I never did! It’s actually against my religion! Are you kidding?! I think I’m driven to be an independent thinker, to think outside of the box. I think because I don’t have a set regime in the respect I find it constraining when you work 9-5.
Maria: I’ve noticed you’re very creative. Very innovative and always looking a new solutions. Do you think this is a learned behavior or just part of your innate entrepreneurial spirit?
I think it’s from having an entrepreneurial spirit. I have always been creative. I love drawing. I’ve been dreaming about having my own clothing line since I was 12 years old since nothing ever fit me! Shopping for me has always been a challenge. I’d always be making my own clothes. I think I was stuck in Home Ec from 7th grade to 11th grade. I literally know how to draw clothes and make my own patterns- I’ve always been creative in that sense.
Maria: What is your mission with Belle Petite?
I’m looking to create industry acceptance and create a paradigm shift away from what the old standards are; 5’9 or more are really what’s considered fashionable in the clothing and modeling industry. What I think needs to occur is, petite women need to have recognition in the market place. That’s one of the only ways we will see clothing designers actually focus on designing for that marketplace. By having positive representation via vehicles like this magazine that deals with petite clothing issues and concerns. It’s much about changing that ideology. Yet they have a double standard while many of today’s celebrities are in fact petite sized women. But we don’t see them on the runways. It’s kind of strange to me.
Maria: Those situations present their own challenges don’t they?
We have a lot of women running around with confidence issues. They are literally not happy about being petite. In countries like China they have a complete inferiority situation where people are extending, breaking their legs, cutting their bones to grow themselves taller. That comes from looking at American fashion magazine.
Maria: Do you feel like this is an empowerment issue Ann, to help women resolve their self-esteem issues?
Absolutely, there are many petite women, too many shorter gals who walk around not thinking they are attractive because the are 5’2. They want to be that 5’10. That’s what they grew up looking at in fashion magazines.
Maria: What advice would you give these women?
Embrace them selves.
Sure tall women are beautiful but petite women are also beautiful. Equally as beautiful. We can wear our clothes every bit as wonderfully as the taller girls; as long as they are proportioned correctly. It’s really just a scaling issue.
Maria: What is your POWERFUL WHY? What motivates YOU?
I love interacting with women and producing events all around the country. I love the camaraderie of it. I enjoy watching women become happy with themselves. Embracing the way they are and the positive things they have to offer.
Beauty is a wonderful thing but intelligence, honor and being authentic is the complete package. You can’t be a one-dimensional person. I think the more confident a woman is, the more beautiful she is.
Maria: You are one of those women who are not only making a change in your local community but on a global scale. It’s really inspiring and amazing!
Yes the amazing thing is we have so many people jumping on board to support this project. Such as Nia Peeples who is our lifestyle contributor. Guest such as designer Alex Mardikian, author Michael McMillian (“Pink Bat Thinking” & “Paper Airplanes”) have been part of my radio show. Also other contributors are celebrity fashion photographer Peter Baratti and beauty expert, Shonda Chase.
Maria: Can you tell everyone how you are delivering your message?
The Bella Petite Hour Radio show is every Tuesday AmericasWebRadio.com at 10am PST/1pm EST. It’s fashion, entertainment and lifestyle focused – we have professional individuals, celebrities to experts who are featured.
The magazine is online and presented in a digital format. We are looking to officially launch in October of this year. I decided to keep it 100% digital because this is the way the industry is moving. The digital mediums allow us to archive everything.
BellaPetite.com is the web community – it’s not the magazine so everyone can see what we’re up to!
Maria: If people want to learn more about you and follow you how do they do that?
Reflections on this interview:
I always think it’s important to acknowledge the courage, persistence and fortitude of the entrepreneurs out there who have such vision. Ann is a woman to watch. I have no doubt in my mind that she will continue to build this media empire and influence women in a positive manner. I myself had spent many years in the fashion industry. And when it is all said and done, it is a business about helping people look and feel good about themselves. Ann is bringing awareness to a piece of the market that has been neglected for far too long. My 5″3 self salutes her!